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There is an old Spanish song I used to sing. The first line is "Manana. Manana. Manana is good enough for me." I don't know many Spanish words, but I do that as a consumer, I despise that one. As I understand manana, it means tomorrow or someday or when I get around to it.

I'm not sure how many subcontractors and other small business people in Utah recognize the word, but many sure practice the concept. And that single characteristic is what separates many hard-working, God-fearing people who are in business for themselves from ever rising above mediocrity as far as income or lifestyle are concerned.The successful entrepreneur, on the other hand, has a built-in sixth sense that makes all the difference in the world. It is the Sense of Urgency.

In the olden days when I owned a franchise of a nationally known recruiting firm, the franchiser taught us the value of Sense of Urgency while making time-management decisions. The trainer called it simply "Dollars Now." When faced with a decision about what assignment to work on, we would just ask ourselves, which will bring us "Dollars Now"? The rest of the decision would be easy.

That is good advice for the entrepreneur, especially one in the start-up phase. Cash is critical, and working on the projects that will bring in the quickest cash to build one's business is a good criterion for serving clients and customer.

However, that philosophy must be tempered with the value of keeping promises. The idea of keeping promises is so basic to good business practices that it is the first lesson taught by a nonprofit foundation, Enterprise Mentors International, that I voluntarily serve with in Third World countries.

We train the poorest of the poor in the Philippines, Mexico and Guatemala. These people, who have no welfare program, often run small enterprises out of their homes to literally put bread on the table or shoes on their children.

They take the idea of keeping promises very seriously. Break a promise and lose a customer. Lose a customer, miss a family meal. Every entrepreneur should be so committed.

I have found almost without exception that the tradesmen in this area who have helped our family remodel a home are so long on promises and so short on delivery that if they show up twice, when promised, they have already exceeded my expectations.

Since I do some instructing in entrepreneurism, I have often wondered if we need a session or two in our BYU entrepreneurial curriculum about making and keeping promises.

I guess a story I heard this past week illustrates whose program it is to overpromise and underdeliver. It also reteaches the value of being honest in dealing with your fellow man.

A man died and met St. Peter at the "Pearly Gates." Evidently this person's life made him a borderline case; therefore he was offered a chance to visit Heaven and Hell and take his pick. He first went to Hell for his one-day visit. He found white beaches, blue sky, lots of refreshments and everything else one finds at beaches. He was so delighted that he went to St. Peter and said, "I'll pass on Heaven, I want to go straight to Hell."

The next day, when he found himself in Hell, it was more of the traditional idea of Hell; fire, brimstone with pitched forks and all.

He sought out Satan to complain, "That wasn't what I saw yesterday. What's going on?" Satan answered "Well, then you were a prospective customer, now you are a customer."

Maybe we all need to remember the slogan from a poster I recently saw: "If we don't take care of our customers, someone else will."

Stephen W. Gibson is Entrepreneur in Residence at the Center for Entrepreneurship in the Marriott School of Management/Brigham Young University.